British electronics (and keyboards player) Pat Thomas, sax player John Butcher and Norwegian drummer-percussionist Ståle Liavik Solberg are all imaginative and resourceful improvisers who keep orbiting each other’s sonic endeavours. Thomas and Butcher played together in the London Improvisers Orchestra and recently collaborated again in an expanded version of Common Objects (Skullmarks, Meenah, 2018). Thomas and Solberg collaborated recently in an ad-hoc free-improv quartet with Danish sax player Lotte Anker and Norwegian bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten («His Flight’s at Ten», Iluso, 2018). Butcher and Solberg are performing regularly as a duo, have recorded a duo album «So Beautiful, It Starts To Rain» (Clean Feed, 2016) and collaborated again in the Stray quartet (with bass player Dominic Lash and guitarist John Russell, «Into Darkness», Iluso, 2017).
«Fictional Souvenirs» captures the performance of Thomas, Butcher and Solberg at Iklectik, «Old Paradise Yard», London, on July 2017. Thomas brought to this free-improvised set Moog Theremini (a re-imagined version of the old Theremin) and IPad based electronics while Butcher and Solberg kept to their more orthodox instruments. But there was not nothing orthodox, common or predictable in this intense and highly inventive set that demanded fine-tuned reflexes of Olympic athletes and an elephantine ears.
The electronic sounds of Thomas suggested elusive pulses, elastic kind of energy and alien forms of sonorities. Butcher and Solberg disciplined these bursts of sounds in an expansive, more coherent and energetic interplay already on the opening piece «Dust». On the following «Headaches» it is Thomas that abstracts Solberg rubbing of objects on the drums skins to offer abstract, rhythmic patterns, later transformed brilliantly by Butcher to somber, meditative calls. The trio adapts into an open and impressionistic but intriguing free-improv mode on «The Solution». Then, on «Threads» Butcher enchants Thomas and his cacophonic, space noises like a confident snake charmer would hypnotize a nervous cobra. Only on «The Effort and a Smile» the trio attempts a playful, rhythmic modes of interaction and keeps exploring this vein on the last, atmospheric «Keys».
Pat Thomas (Moog Theremini & IPad based elec), John Butcher (s), Ståle Liavik Solberg (dr, perc)